The Tyranny of Idiots

So, have you read The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes (  It’s the one with Bess, the landlord’s black-eyed daughter.  If you haven’t, feel free to follow the link, then come back.

Is it just me, or is this entire poem populated by idiots?  In rough order of severity:

  • Tim the ostler, who apparently didn’t stop to think that they’d want to know how he knew the highwayman was going to come back to the inn or why the highwayman would spend time there, or that the troops would treat Bess as the accomplice she was.
  • The redcoats.  Whose bright idea was it, exactly, to take the joke so far that the girl was tied up with a loaded musket?
  • Bess, who can’t think of any better way to make noise than to fire the musket that’s aimed at her.
  • The highwayman.  Oh lord, the highwayman.  Let’s put aside all that “though hell should bar the way” stuff, seeing as all it took was one musket shot to cause him to run like a scared chicken.  Anyway, when he learns that his lover has killed herself to save his ass, what does he do?  Goes riding up the road in broad daylight, yelling and waving his sword, as if that’s going to do anyone any good, and promptly gets shot.  One wonders what he was trying to accomplish.

Romanticism is all fine and well until it spills over into abject stupidity.

And no one can tell me what exactly a ‘love-knot’ is, so I’m bummed.


One Response to “The Tyranny of Idiots”

  1. Carrie Says:

    Three comments, duplicated verbatim from the old blog:

    ‘throughthelookingglass@blog-city’ wrote:
    hey so im not the only one who thought it was complete bull!! Congrats, She

    tangerinepenguin wrote:

    About half-way down. I have no idea how historically authoritative this is (I’m skeptical, actually) and the images in the instructions appear to be broken (of course) but it’s a start. The book she cites is of course on Amazon:

    Carrie wrote:
    Yeah, but a love-knot made of one’s own hair wouldn’t be dark red if the hair was black. It’s got to be made of ribbon or something.

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